J. Thomas Bigger, MD

Part of the Dr. Edward B. Leahey, Jr., and Michael I. Leahey Lecture Series

The annual J. Thomas Bigger Lecture, sponsored by the Leahey Foundation, the Department of Medicine and the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, honors an outstanding individual, J. Thomas Bigger, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Pharmacology at the Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Bigger began his 50 year career at Columbia as an intern in 1960. Among his positions in the Department of Medicine was as the first chief of the Division of Cardiology. His research had an indelible impact on the current practice of cardiology, running the gamut from basic and clinical electrophysiology to major, landmark clinical trials. Dr. Bigger investigated the pharmacology of antiarrhythmic drugs and their effects on ventricular arrhythmias, demonstrated that paroxysmal atrial tachycardia (PAT) was due to AV nodal reentry, and has become an internationally recognized expert in sudden cardiac death.

Among his many major contributions were as principal investigator in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST) and CABG-PATCH trials. More recently, Dr. Bigger was the Principal Investigator of the Northeastern Hub of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sponsored clinical trial, Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD), and its observational follow-up study, ACCORDION Dr. Bigger was Director of a Practice-Based Research Network, working closely with Michael Leahey, the first director of Columbia’s Clinical Trials Office. He was a member of the Executive Committee of both the Biomedical Informatics (BMIR) and Community Engagement Core (CECR) Resources at the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, home to Columbia University’s Clinical and Translational Science Award. He was also a Co-Investigator for the Washington Heights/Inwood Informatics Infrastructure for Community-Centered Comparative Effectiveness Research (WICER) study and its extension, WICER 4 U. This project surveyed and continues to follow more than 6,000 households in the immediate neighborhoods surrounding Columbia University Medical Center. The goal of this research was to create a permanent connection with the residents of these communities and fully engage them in research opportunities.

During his distinguished career, Dr. Bigger published more than 500 research papers and reviews, as well as receiving Distinguished Scientist Awards from the Heart Rhythm Society (1998) and the American College of Cardiology (2002). He mentored numerous students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty, and was an outstanding colleague and friend to many at the Columbia University Medical Center.

Past Bigger Lecturers

Year Speaker and Title
2015 A. John Camm, MD
Professor of Clinical Cardiology, St. George’s University of London
Professor of Cardiology, Imperial University, London
“Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Device – Detected Atrial Fibrillation”

The Leahey Foundation

The Leahey Foundation honors the accomplishments of the Leahey brothers – Edward’s pioneering cardiac research and Michael’s vital contributions to the funding and administration of clinical trials.

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